Hillsboro Roubaix 2012: A Saturday in Hell….

April 17, 2012

The amazing Elizabeth Rangel even catches the raindrops! Wow!

Rich Pierce once again put on an awesome race at Hillsboro. The forecast called for rain, and it did not disappoint! It was a Saturday in Hell for all of those racing, and a good number stayed home to wash their socks instead. Team Mack had a great race, with Big Daddy Mark McGeen coming down from Wisconsin top put some whoopin’ on the 50+ field. Mark broke away with Gary Painter (a really cool guy from Indiana) and took the final sprint, and it was ALL Gary’s for the next slots with Gary Dyer just pipping Uncle Gary Doering for the podium. Big Frank Brummer was also in the mix in the 50+ for Team Mack.

Oh, and, It was raining the entire race…..

In the 40+ I was coming in with high anxiety. I didn’t have a good first couple of races, and was trying to work on my head as well as my form. Training went well after Tuscaloosa, and I’ve dropped a bit of weight, but I only had two crits and no road racing under my belt. There was a very strong field assembled. I warmed up with Stephen Spanbauer and a scary looking pack of Zipp Factory guys, and pulled up to the start line with Clark Priebe and Denis K and Team Mack’s Sam Gulotta (one of the only other remaining 40+’s on Mack, everyone else is 50+!!!!). It was raining, and about 55 degrees. People were wearing rain flys over their kit. It was cold and miserable.

After about 6 miles, Curt Tolson took a flyer with Bryan Boggs and Rob Landes on his wheel. Rob was wearing a jacket and I think he burned out  because of that. Boggs managed to ride the Tolson train to the end, only getting dumped on the way back into town (so I was told by the driver of the lead car). The chase group went along gingerly, with a few crashes in the usual places. It was a bit funny when Tracy Smith called one of them as an OKC Velo guy came railing around on the left (it goes without saying that is over the “yellow line” at Hillsboro—as if there is one at Hillsboro) right before “Molteni Corner” where Mike Humphries bit it last year. As we came around there he was flying off the road and Tracy was yammering the whole time about how people never listen to him….and they should! Tracy must have flatted out right after that, and the huge storms before the race meant that there was lots of crap on the road which caused flats and slide outs.

I was not to be seduced. After being way too overconfident in the last few races, I followed wheels and was ALWAYS on the correct side of the draft. I felt sorry for my old teammate Clark Priebe as he tried in vain with a Honey Badger guy to break free, but I did not feel sorry enough to sacrifice myself for the effort. Instead, I stayed pinned to Spanbauer and only jumped when it looked like maybe 6 or 8 guys were going to snap things. But, it never happened. We came into town on the last lap with about 30 guys, and Greg Springborn played the ace at the base of the feed and jumped free for what would be the last podium slot. I hung in thinking I was ok behind Trent Donat, who had climbed well all race. Trent moved up on the steep part until SCREEECH! his skewer failed and his wheel torqued into his chainstay. Next thing I knew, I was locked up and in the back of the pack. I almost gave up. Then, I remembered, I have done this before. I have dropped the field on that climb. I have chased to the front on the cobbles. I have outsprinted some really powerful people on the finale. I was not going to puss out. I gave it everything and launched up the climb, and it was chaos at the top—on both laps there were several people in the ditch. I steered clear of the guys on the ground and coming back into the road from the yards and busted down the hill to the cobbles. By the time the cobbles turned up, I had caught a group of five or so who had been shelled by the main chase and I blitzed past them in full sprint. By the time I got to the school I had caught the back of the Zipp group, only then Rob Landes and another guy tangled and crashed in front of me. I steered clear of that and continued to sprint up to Denis K as we rounded the corner, and my wheel slipped, and Denis sprinted, and the Zipps took off, and I sort of gave up. I was spent. Still, I wound up 12th out of the 54 who braved the elements. Our main chase group finished more than 3 minutes faster than the Cat-3 winner to give some indication of what the old guys do—Tolson finished three minutes ahead of us. It was good to be back at the front of a race of that caliber. I’m back.







Big Daddy Mark McGeen with Uncle Gary and Gary Dyer!


Reflections on Tuscaloosa on the Eve of Hillsboro

April 13, 2012

Looking overconfident at the start in between Tom Gates and Robert Gregory

Tomorrow is Hillsboro, the biggest race in the Midwest when scaled by its payout. There will be 75 amped up 40+ masters racers on the line, and 75 more 50+ taking off 10 minutes later. I’ve done this race 8 times, going back to 2002, and managed to finish 5th twice, but I haven’t fared quite so well since my big crash. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. However, I need to get a grip and race smarter than I have of late. Sometimes I get a bit overconfident, and that was REALLY evident in Tuscaloosa. I didn’t know most of the guys in the race, that’s not my circuit and I’ve only raced in the deep south once at Athens, in a heavily depleted field because of the rain that day. Tom Gates and Robert Gregory were on the line, which was heartening. Tom did mention something a bit disconcerting on the line—that he got dropped in three laps the only time he’d done this race. But, I was feeling good and figured maybe Tom is more susceptible to the big power hills—which I tend to like. Yeah. Right.

Taking control.....for one lap.....

I proceeded to take control of the race from the start, not wanting to miss an early break, and I lead up the big hill on Lap 1 and most of the way through….On Lap 2, three guys squirted off the front and I tried in vain to bridge and then got stuck pulling through….On Lap 3…….POP Goes the Darren! I was off the back by lap 5, and relegated to chasing in with Tom and a several others. The main chase eventually lapped us finally giving us shelter. After the results came out I was a bit embarrassed. I was trying to take the race to guys who are WAY better than I’ll ever be or have been. Guys who win NRC cat-1 races on a regular basis, and who win national championships on the track and on the road. Oops. Gotta get a grip and race smarter. Had I raced smart,  I might have lucked out and made the break (probably not, they probably would have shelled me if I did). Or I might (more likely) have at least positioned myself to finish in the main chase and had a shot to sprint for last few money slots. Ah well, there is always tomorrow…..

Wait up! Slow Down! I'm supposed to win this one!

Forest Park and Tuscaloosa!

March 29, 2012

trp r960....

Well, the season finally got off to a bang in Forest Park. I was unlucky in the breaks and too aggressive given my development, but I was pretty happy about my overall fitness.  What I wasn’t happy about was my brakes on the Stainless Steel Waterford. Indeed, I wound up racing on the old trusty R-33, as the Campy Skeleton’s had developed an inability to control the spring adjustment in back. I’m not happy about that, and that isn’t the first incident we’ve had down here in So. Ill of later generation Campy brakes going to shit (Molteni fried a pair as well). There is simply no excuse for that. Of course, in a drunken rage I ordered a pair of TRP r960s. So far, I have one race on them and they’re good….Still, Forest Park was fun, and it was good to race with Frank Brummer (I totally fucked up the finish, I should have chased harder and gotten Frank up to Gary Dyer and Chuck Pass…..as it was, Frank was 4th in the 50+). And, totally awesome to see Kurt Russell hanging out on the sidelines! Tracy managed to get off with Mikey Weiss, Tim Hall, and Andy Hunsaker, and Big Shark and Gateway did an awesome job making that stick.

I went down solo to the Tour of Tuscaloosa, feigning participation at a professional conference in New Orleans. Lots of driving, but worth it, even just to do the crit. What an awesome event! You should really get this one on your calendar if you can possibly manage it. Huge money in this, and the 35+ category meant that we had three or four guys on the line with Pro licenses….I didn’t really realize that….I raced quite aggressively until I blew up! Still, it was good to be racing at the front in a huge and superfast race. I’m not totally back, but I’m inching upward…

Ready to Race?

March 1, 2012

I will probably be racing these when I'm 60+

Ah, I missed Froze Toes. I was hoping to line up for the 1-2-3, but then my son’s sleepover got in the way. At least he made the girls go home before 10pm, but it was still a bit much to sneak off for a race. I’ll be in action at Forest Park and maybe also at Carondolet. After that, I hope to hit the Tuscaloosa crit (I can’t stay for the road race), and then we’ll see what I can do before Hillsboro.

Uncle Gary has us on track for another great year at Team Mack, and I’m really excited about the new American Classic Wheels. I’ve been running the 58 tubulars for four years, and it was time to upgrade to the new model—which looks totally cool! Those have been awesome wheels, and I plan to race them as spares for the next decade or so, or maybe move them to cross if one of my cross wheels breaks. The thing about high end tubular wheels is that they have to be thought of as a long-term good. Don’t get all bound up in the hype about new shit. It’s all the fucking same. My 2004 Mavic Cosmic Carbone Tubulars remain a raceworthy wheel at any level, and I run them as my primary cyclocross wheel. I don’t expect that to change for at least another four years.

I’m also experimenting with some off road frankenstein stuff in the cross-off-season. I just rebodied one of my Mavic Cosmos to Shimano, and have a 10-speed 11-36 SRAM cassette on the way. I’m going to try to see how this does with a Campy rear Triple derailleur. I’ve run that with a 53-29 in the triple, but this will stretch to 50-36…..I think it can handle it…..maybe. Maybe I should have gone 34…..I’ll report back later….

Giant City State Park Trails…..We gotta open them!

January 22, 2012


Please sign the petition to open Giant City and Trail of Tears State Parks’ trails to Cycling!

So Ill locals have long known that the best trails down here are off limits to cyclists. Part of the reason is the political domination of horseback riders, but that’s not really all there is to it. Horses are not allowed from October 31 to May 1, which is the prime period when people would want to ride mountain bikes down here in So. Ill. The real reason  is that the IDNR officials don’t want to generate tourism and park use, because it would mean maybe just a bit more work for them. Of course, that’s largely bogus since mountain bikes don’t hurt the trails (horses do….), and mountain bikers are famous for HELPING the trails.

I got busted enflagrante by the IDNR supervisor at Giant City last week. He told me that we can’t ride, and that he’s opposed to changing the policy. And, since some governor who is now in prison appointed him, I guess he can do that—even though he also could change that policy and help to stimulate tourism to our economically devastated region. But the IDNR good old boys are only interested in tourism related to hunting and fishing. They plant fields, build trails, and turn on the lights for the few weekends a year that a dwindling handful of heavy guys drink beer in the woods and shoot at each other. Then, they close the park. That’s a dying strategy. My analyses of General social Survey data show that the proportion of American households with a hunter in them has declined from 30% in 1977 to 17% in 2010….Hunting is a losing game. Our principle tourist draw down here is the Wine Trail, and Southern Illinois Vinters are getting more numerous, better at production, and more successful. When I mentioned this to IDNR-boy, he said “I don’t care what a bunch of business people want.” Across the border in Missouri it’s easy to see the symbiosis of wine and bikes, and I know several of the owners of So Ill wineries quite well, and they’ve even allowed us to have cross races on their property. They get it. The good old boys don’t give a fuck.

Sign the petition!

This Pegoretti’s Going to Heaven

January 16, 2012

1999 Pegoretti Duende, Best Purchase Ever

It is finally time. After 13 years of abuse, the old Pegoretti Duende is making noises which can only be explained with reference to potentially catastrophic issues. It’s all my fault. Rather than baby the Peg, I’ve ridden it into the ground. From 1999-2003 it was my only bike while I logged 10k miles a year, and after that it remained my first choice for training on the hard roads of So. Ill. It took a rock through the seat-stays which dented both sides in 2002, and I’ve neglected basic frame care. I raced it to a top 10 in the duathlon National Championships, and to a top 5 in Hillsboro Roubaix. The Peg was definitely an all-rounder. I once baffled the group ride when Lance sniffers were crowing about their Trek 5200s and we put them up on the scales…and the Deda Steel  Peg was lighter even with training wheels.

I’ve always marveled at how lucky I was to get this bike in the first place. I was a runner and ultimate frisbee guy when my knees went and my surgeon told me to buy a bike. I got a nice Bianchi Veloce (9-speed) but wanted something a bit more racy after a year. I went to Lynn Greer, who was then at Bike Pedlar (he now owns the venerable Gran Fondo in Nashville, one of the best bike stores in the US), and I told him I wanted a Colnago. I liked the paint jobs. Lynn kind of knew me because his brother was one of my age group rivals in running, and he really did me right. “No, you don’t want that bike. You want this one.” And he pointed up to the Pegoretti handing on the wall. It was lighter than the Colnago, and made from better tubing, TIG welded by a fucking metal God; and this was a real race bike, not a show dog for rich guys. Lynn set me up with the Pegoretti with a Chorus/Record mix, open pro wheels, and a set of Rolf Vector Pros for racing. It was the best purchase I’ve ever made.

After over 70,000 miles and not nearly enough delicate attention, it’s time to retire the Pegoretti. Thankfully, my old buddy Jeff Williams, Punk Rock Superstar, Artist Extraordinaire, is going to help memorialize the Pegoretti on canvas. Jeff is an incredible artist, and his bike paintings are literally things that I dream ab0ut (he dreams about giant floating chocolate icebergs….go figure). I’ll keep it set up for a while and maybe use it on the trainer, but eventually I’ll mount the Peg on the wall next to Jeff’s painting….

Worst Purchase of 2011: Shimano Sh M310 MTB Shoes

December 19, 2011

They don't look like instruments of torture....

But they are….I had almost resigned myself to not writing a worst purchase this year, because I had put these out of my mind….I did better than some. I “only” paid around $200 for my pair. I have worn Shimano MTB shoes since I bought my first MTB in 2000, the first generation was an awesome shoe (remember the neon Blue?) and the second generation shoes were simply the best things ever made, at least for me. But, after several years on two pair I needed new ones. I ordered these….It took about 30 minutes to figure out that these were the worst fucking shoes ever made. I can’t do 2 hours without having numb feet. I’m still riding them! Anytime I have a suck ass ride to do, I use these. I have to get something out of them, since I wasted $200 and a Time cleat. But, don’t be fooled. Obviously, everyone has figured this out and they are banging these out for 75% off all around the globe. It doesn’t matter that you can get a $400 pair of shoes for $82.50, don’t buy them.

Best Purchase of 2011: Kool-Stop Brake Blocks—and the end of the season….

December 12, 2011

The Solution to Campy Brake Pads....

Wow, what a season finale. I did Jefferson Barracks for only my second Bubba of the year. Normally, that’s a great course for me, and it should have been. I did a practice lap with Mike Weiss and we were marveling at how well the course had handled the rain. But, when I got going the Fango’s were clogged and I was WAY overdressed. I probably had about 8psi too much in the tires, as well. Another finish in the bottom third….

But, the next week was my mom’s 81st birthday and there was a cross race in Tulsa. Unfortunately, I wound up meeting up with some old friends and partying until the wee hours of the morning. After 3 hours of sleep, I was seriously considering blowing off the race. But, I warmed up, cramped, stretched, and toed the line thinking I’d be lapped and left for dead, or would cramp out in 10 minutes. Instead, I was in the top ten with 2 laps down and decided to make sure I stayed that way. After a slugfest with a junior kid (which I won), I ended it 8th in the 3-4 race. Probably my best cross result in f0ur years. I’m still not doing nationals or worlds, unless it’s really warm and sunny that week….

As promised, my best purchase of 2011—Kool Stop Brake Blocks.

I’m a Campy guy, so notice which ones are posted. They’re the Shimano style blocks, and they work. You may have to shim them out with a washer from your campy brakes, but you’ll never have to change out the Campy Brake pads (an absolute nightmare, as any Campy person can attest). With these, you can also slide in and out carbon specific pads (I bought two sets this year, and one is on  my R-33 stainless race bike), and change out pads just like Shimano people do….Best yet, the entire brake block set comes with two sets of pads, and costs the same as a set of Campy pads…..

Next up….Worst purchase of 2011…..

Halloweeen and Bourbon Proof

November 23, 2011


View from the Women's Room, apparently.....

I’m not exactly lighting it up, but I did at least manage to pin on a number a few times in the last month. First, I was up in Wisconsin for the Halloween race, while skipping out on a conference which was much more boring. I was bummed that I didn’t get a chance to do a costume….Mark McGeen was the Specialized Angel, and he looked hot! Tim LeRoy was there as well, posing as Jeff Williams, or maybe it was Bob Marley. Mike Magnuson went as Mike Magnuson, and boy was it a good time! I totally sucked, but it was fun.

Next on the plate for me was Louisville, and I was relegated to a one day event. Chief and Dave were in the house, and we managed to hook up with Reeschard for a while and then had dinner at Proof with DJ and Co. We got in some laps on Friday before dinner, and I was pretty stoked about the course, which had lots of power grass and sand. I’m good on sand, unless I’m not.  Proof didn’t disappoint, and I had a wonderful duck breast for the entree following a beet salad and octopus app. Chief had Pork, and it was the other white meat, which they like at Proof. DJ had his hands all over these women’s penguin before we dragged him out. Race day was a hoot, with Heckawee navigation causing Chief some distress. But, I was warmed up and ready to go, despite starting on the back row. But, I managed to push up pretty quickly and was about mid pack when I felt my wheel bottom, then it went again and didn’t come up. I was a good third of a lap from the pit. I managed to ride it in, but I was dead last by the time I got out of the pits. I worked up a few slots, but that was a killer. Lots of glue this week.

Next up: Purchase of the Year….good and bad.

Bubba 2011! Birthing in Queeny…..

October 20, 2011


Eville Mike captures the pain....

The Bubba series started with a blast! I’m gonna be scarce this year, but I really want to hit a few of these. I couldn’t make the night race, but Bubba 2 was quite an event. Chief fired up the Mystery Machine for me and Molteni, and we had a blast in the B’s. I’m just not racing seriously enough to even bother with the A’s or fight my way up to the start of the B’s, even. So, it was a fairly casual affair, but good to see Justin and Andy Lister sucking it up in the slouchers race! Berto and Kelly were rocking, and I was barely managing to hold off Berto in the B’s. Brummer was sandbagging the C’s, but that man is a machine!!! Chief and Molteni were having lots of fun as well. Good to see Anthony Dust up in the mix in the A’s, he’s been racing at the front in the single speed races, and he can race cross. Unlike me. I’m off this weekend with soccer and stuff, but next weekend I’ll be doing halloween cross in Milwaukee with Mag….